Friday, July 10, 2020

A Patio of Sorrows Promises a Journey Home

Revelation 21:4 And He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away. 

We're in the midst of it, yet we remain isolated, separated from it. My mother-in-law is 86 years old and suffers from dementia for many years now. Within her memory care facility, COVID19 infected a few staff and then several residents, my mother-in-law included. 

Transferred to the local community hospital, she received care and did not require a ventilator. No visitations are allowed--continuing the long months we have not physically seen her since this pandemic began. 

My dear friend's daughter is a nurse at this hospital, like an angel sent to keep an eye, a wing over her. We receive the reports every day, her condition, her confusion, her despair, her fear, her rebellion and defiance, her longing to go "home," the doctor calling my brother-in-law. Could that be her childhood home in the Netherlands? Could that be sixty years ago in Culver City when she first immigrated to America? Now she is silent and refusing to eat. 




Home is where one feels safe, protected, surrounded by loved ones. 

Happy. 

She returns home, but it is back to the memory care facility, to a special ward they have set up for "returning" COVID19 patients, for now. It is not the HOME we long for, the place where beauty displays beyond our imaginations, where perfection and all its Glory outshines the sun, where all things are aligned and make sense and we see the purpose in everything, where Jesus and His Grace envelop our Spirit and Love wipes away, disinfects hate forever and ever. 

And so we wait over here, while she is over there, and we pray that she will receive mercy to get home, the Heavenly Home awaiting her where her husband waits, her grandson prepares, Her Heavenly Father hears our prayers. 

I remember the day very well, the day she knew her husband definetly went to heaven, but she did not think, had no assurance she would be "so lucky." 

It had only been a few hours since my father-in-law peacefully got up out of bed in the middle of the night, made himself some soup, sat in his recliner and went to be with the Lord. In the beginning stages of dementia, and in her confusion, she asked me about Heaven, how she could make sure she could see Dad again. 

The birds chirped loudly in the trees as we sat in her small patio. I asked her the questions one asks when sharing the Good News. Do you believe in God, Mom? We cannot have communion with God because of our sin, it has separated us from Him. Do you know why Jesus came Mom? 

She began to talk of her childhood, how she walked herself to Sunday School in the Netherlands, but no one in her family went. She learned a little about God, maybe Jesus. The need for religion or any church affiliation in adulthood only came when convenient, sponsorship by the Luthren Church to come to America, weddings, babtisms, funerals.  My Father-in-law was Catholic, and "he was a good man," she repeated over and over to me in her tears and her overwhelming fears. 



We talked for some time as I held her hands and asked if she wanted to pray, confess her sin, ask Jesus into her heart and have the hope of Heaven. In her thick accent, she pleaded with me to pray and I told her she could repeat the words I said and believe with all her heart that God would hear her. 

And so we did. On the same morning my father-in-law entered Heaven himself, she, even in her confusion and dementia, made Peace with the heavenly Father. 

Isaiah 49:13b "For the Lord has comforted His people, and will have compassion on the afflicted." 

As we returned into the apartment, my husband sitting in Dad's chair, she patted his shoulders and in tears, apologized to her son. 

""I didn't tell you Teddy, I didn't know...I'm so sorry, I never told you about God...Teddy, do you know?" 

My husband, looking up at his mother, in a bit of a surprise, tells her that he knows God, he has salvation, reassuring her that God is good. 



The years go by and her dementia initiates more change and the move to the memory care facility. She no longer knows her grandchildren, her 5 great grand children are a mystery. Her fear overwhelms her and her tears are always evident. Every minute is brand new from the previous one. She won't remember yesterday, a fog of what happened five minutes ago. 

She hugged and loved on me though, in her dementia more than she ever did in her lifetime of having me as her daughter-in-law. 

My tears are evident when I leave her, though I know she is safe. 

And I know as we wait for this next chapter, God, because He is full of Grace, will honor her prayer in the patio of sorrows, welcoming her home. It will be in heaven where she will learn of His character, of His sovereignty, of the stories and the orchestrations. It is there she will meet the saints, hear the choirs, be a part of the Body of Christ and maybe attend Sunday School again, have a ministry.  

I like to think on that, what she has to look forward to. 




Father God, thank You for the opportunity to share the hope of Your Son on that very sad, bittersweet day. I will never forget our precious words together, my mother-in-law and me and Your amazing grace. Today, as we learn of her entering hospice care and we cannot be with her, we ask for Your comfort and peace as You prepare her for eternity and a reunion. May we be ever cognizant of the moments to share the Good News of the Gospel with those You place in our path. May those who know You Lord, never waste a moment not wanting to know You more. This breaks my heart for He longs to give us so much more if we just trust Him. Grace for Salvation is all sufficient, but Sustaining Grace gives us the abundant life promised and a fulfillment of His perfect Will.  Lord, please bless my bother-in-law and his family for he has worked tiredlessly guiding the decisions and doing all the paperwork for her care. Thank You Lord and bless the nurses and doctors in this COVID19 pandemic and all of her previous care. Thank you especially for Nurse Carissa being near to my mother-in-law and all the staff at the hospital. Thank You Lord for the promise of Heaven and for Your comfort and strength for all the days ahead until we too, are Heaven Bound. Amen. 












Friday, June 12, 2020

Praying Times

Ephesians 6:18 "With all prayer and petition, pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints."



Praying friends, it's time to be on our knees for oh so much! In desperate times, we gather to call on each other, go to our churches, seek God in all these uncertainties. It seems we are upon one of these crazy times now. Never has there been such a time...

Yes there has---just.in my lifetime:

President Kennedy assassinated in Dallas, Texas
Vietnam War and protests
Nuclear proliferation
Civil Rights movements and racism in the 60's.
Wars and rumors of wars. 
Aides
Cults
School shootings
Serial Killers
The War on drugs
Raising teenagers
Driving California freeways
Mudslides
Earthquakes
Hurricanes
Wildfires
Recessions
9/11
More mass shootings
Work place violence
Murder
Greed
Divorce
Sexual abuse
Sex Trafficing
Disease
Suicide
Opioid addiction and others
Politics and division
Pandemics
More racial tension
Police brutality
Injustice...


Are you thoroughly depressed now?  My apologies, but we live in a broken world. This breaks God's heart even more. 



 Our prayers--sometimes we just don't have the words. But Jesus gave us an example in Matthew 6, The Lord's Prayer. Pray like this, Jesus said, especially when overwhelmed by a world bent on not following God.




Our Father, who art in Heaven
Hallowed be Thy Name
(You are God, I am not) 
Thy Kingdom come,
Thy will be done
On earth as it is in Heaven.
(Thank You God that I am Your child, a part of Your great and awesome plan. I want to be in Your Will for I know You are Good)

Give us this day our daily bread,
(Provide for me God)
And forgive us our debts 
(Forgive my sins)
As we forgive our debtors
(Help me to forgive and love others).

And do not lead us into temptation
(Let me abide in Your Spirit and listen and obey You)
But deliver us from evil
(Give me discernment and wisdom)
For Thine is the Power and the Glory, forever,
(For You are God, Holy and Righteous, and I want to Love You more and more each day) 
Amen. 
(I agree with my prayer, I surrender and trust You, Thank You Lord).


I pray. I pray continuously. To live and breathe is to pray, an imperative. The enemy creeps about and he wants to destroy all of God's good work in us and mock us as he tries to whisper the doubt, the fear, the unbelief into our ear, trip us up, turn our head from truth with the noise of this world. 

I pray.

I pray with friends over the phone, and with friends at church or where ever the occasion arises. Lately, I've prayed attending Zoom meetings. 

I've prayed a lot in hospital rooms. 

Driving to work is a great time to pray. 

If you catch me in my garden, I am working with my hands, but I am conversating with The Father and enjoying His creation in all the picking up of leaves, planting, chasing butterflies. It's my daily, anointed time with the Lord.



Tonight, a dear young man in my life (well, he's in his 40's but young to me) came over. James, like a son to me, established a routine, a ritual really, since he started training and working in his current career. He comes over to pray before a big test. He said to me that he does not feel fully prepared until we have this special time together.What a blessing and privilege! 

Tonight, we sat in my patio and after chit-chatting over the week and events, I took his hands and prayed for his upcoming test tomorrow morning. 

We've done this a lot over the last 10 years. He's passed every one! I am very proud of him. 

Friends, I've learned a lot over the years about prayer. It's not so much what we say, but our heart attitude, our quiet surrender, our true desire to connect with a God who adores and lavishes our petitions and requests, our sincere hope to walk more closely with Him. I've learned what a surrendered prayer is, the hardest ever to pray, and I've treasured intimate prayers with my closest friends. I've seen prayers answered in the way I prayed but most often, I've seen prayers answered in unexpected, more amazing than I could ever imagine ways. Then, there are the prayers where you know you've prayed a thousand times...



 The waiting is hard, but God's timing is always perfect. He is faithful!  

Lord, thank You for my "son", James and our beautiful relationship over the years. What a redemptive story that is! Thank You for his success and that You direct him to seek You in his work and throughout his life. Thank You that I get to participate in seeing Your will accomplished in him. Thank You Lord for the sweet times I prayed with my own son this year in his tough moments. Those tender, sorrowful times, though hard, bonded us closer in trust and I see the result. I continue to pray for his complete surrender. Lord, thank You for teaching us how to pray. Thank You for the Holy Spirit who directs our prayers to Heaven and prompts us with sweet whispers of grace in our ears to remember Your goodness. May we pray not just for ourselves, but call on You for Your mercy for Your saints and for Your will to be done in all those we lift to You in concern. In Jesus Name I pray, Amen. 







Tauren Wells "When We Pray" 


Friday, May 15, 2020

You Have Done Great Things



Luke 8:39 "Return to your house and describe what great things God has done for you." And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city what great things Jesus had done for him.

This is the story of the demon possessed man Jesus meets while in Gerasenes. As we read in Chapter 8 of the Gospel of Luke, the demons, "a legion" as described, recognized the Messiah and immediately wanted a way out. Just the sight of Jesus "brought torment" to their purpose as Jesus declared His authority. The surrender came quick as they begged to enter the swine feeding on a nearby hill. 

How appropriate. (No disrespect piggy fans). 

I always wondered. The swine became so agitated, they ran off the side of the cliff into the ocean and drowned. Did Jesus just finish carrying out his healing by the destruction of the demon possessed swine or did the swine just by nature, go crazy and stampede off the hill on their own because they became demon possessed?  



Either way, the demon possessed, crazy, tormented naked man, living in the tombs was now restored to sanity. Can you imagine witnessing all that? The people of the town did not take this too well. The scriptures tell us that they were "gripped with great fear." They wanted Jesus to leave. But, the healed man, all he wanted was to follow Jesus! 

Jesus, though, told the man of a different plan for him. He said, "Go home." We can  assume this meant--reconnect with your family and friends, build up trust again, discover what you've been missing, go have a nice, healthy life, you've been healed! He asked of him one thing, just tell people about what happened to you, tell them about the Great God who heals! 

~~~

We've been asked to return to our homes. The demon virus, COVID19 has possessed our world and caused sickness, fear--and death. As we are staying home, staying safe, I hope the many prayers God hears, call for Him to drown out this virus as well as the fearful voices of uncertainty, the voices that do not bring us hope. I pray for our sanity. 

Can you describe the Great things God has done for you? Can you begin to make a list? 
Maybe it's not casting out demons, but I know God brings healing, comfort, purpose, provision and grace upon amazing grace. He orchestrates Divine appointments and shows us His glory in nature. 

A few weeks back on a Saturday mid morning, my nephew and his new bride made a stop over, for no particular reason, a nice surprise. Chris, eating a take out meal he picked up, sat at the dining room table why Kylie and I went outside where work was going on in the garden, showing her some of our projects and flowers. 

She spotted it first. A huge Swallowtail butterfly flew through the orange tree. At first, she thought it was a bird, but as I went to grab my phone and take a better look--two swallowtails--engaged in mating, flew together. That's why it looked so large! One did all the flying for both of them. What a beautiful thing to see as they moved from tree to tree and rested inbetween as we snapped pictures. 





Many of you know the swallowtail butterfly is a grace gift of comfort to me received a few short months after our son Tim went to heaven--over and over again. 

I told Chris and Kylie that their cousin, my son, Timmy, was saying Hi, happy to see them."

It's all in the fun and the moment of making a connection and remembering our Tim. 


Chris and Kylie, one year married. 

As I contemplated sending  an e-mail today to a potential publisher, my phone rang, my nephew, Chris on the other end. 

"Hi Aunt Coke, how's it going? Kylie and I just want to tell you that everyday since we saw those butterflies at your house, we've seen the same kind at our house...yeah, like every day!" It's so cool!"  (Just one special encounter can make us very aware). 

I told him that when he sees one to know God loves him and He is always near as well as his cousin--his memory, family. God gave me opportunity to talk of Great things.

And God tells us to "return to your house and describe what great things God has done for you!" 

As I ended the phone call, I prayed for my family. As I typed out an e-mail, I remembered my son and my memoir I am hoping to get published, written from my home where gifts of comfort came flying in as I prayed for understanding and grace. 

Lord, As so many are home bound, my prayer remains for You to make a way into hearts and restore broken things, make our projects about our soul and our purpose, open our eyes to what has always been right in front of us, all around us, family, creation, memories and story---Your story becoming one with our story. You, God, are our Miracle, our Deliverer, casting out that which wants to drive us mad, all those worldy lies and directions. As believers, let us long to be by Your side, discovering all You are and let us speak of Your Goodness from our own rooftops, for You Lord are in all things and working in all things, all for Your glory. Thank You Lord for this time to bring You praise and worship as I anticipate all the Great Things still to come. Amen. 

Timmy and Chris as kiddos


You Have Done Great Things ~ Phil Wickham 

Friday, May 1, 2020

A Truly Good Life


I Timothy 6: 18-19  "Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life."


This is #BirthdayWeek. My husband's comes first, then a week later, mine. A couple of years ago, I found the perfect thin, artificial Christmas tree for a corner of my home below the stairs. It sits in a beautiful pedastal pot. I loved it so much, after many years not putting up a tree, I decided to decorate it for the coming up holidays after Christmas.

A Valentine's Day tree, a St. Patrick's Day tree, an Easter Tree.

Then, once those passed and the weather began warming up, I took the tree down until the late fall, Thanksgiving week.

But not this year. COVID19 keeps us home bound and I just like my crazy tree. So, I decided to decorate it for #Birthdays.

It required a trip to Dollar Tree, one store I can count on to be open for some "essentials."

What can I decorate a tree with for birthdays? Balloons and bows!





Found a cute changeble date calendar at Dollar Tree


I share a birthday with a friend I've known since 2nd grade. That is a very long time! She lives in Michigan. Purchasing a beautiful card and writing a note, butterfly stickers on the envelope, I got it in the mail early...

Then it dawned on me, I forgot to put a stamp on it. I can't blame this on the "virus," can I?

I received the most beautiful, special birthday card today from my sister and a surprise visit from co-workers.

Celebrate Good times, Good friends, family.



~~~

Walking around my neighborhood, I stopped to take a picture of this driveway artwork. #COVID19 inspired, the heart also reminds me of hands on each side, holding the world. Yes, it is temporary, just like my tree, a reminder of so much to be thankful for because the world is spinning fast and right now, we're hunkered down in our own little world, zooming and coloring, sewing masks and binge watching all of Netflix, baking bread, gardening...

What are you doing you wouldn't have done before COVID19?

Celebrate health, privilege, opportunity, talents, discoveries in our world, in yourself, in God.

How is Your relationship with Him?  Have you got the time?





~~~

At the beginning of this week,  a minimum of 16 chrysalises spread themselves from one end of my butterfly garden to the other. COVID19 afforded me the time to watch, chart and capture the event of metamorphosis in each step. I learned that some are not successful. One butterfly emerged damaged, unable to fly. I did the research on what to do and settled on leaving it up to nature, partially. I did give it some honey water which it gladly drank from and I kept it close to many flowers it walked on and hopped around with its curled up wings.



I also experienced a butterfly that could not emerge from the chrysalis. For many hours it struggled and though I tried to help the process, it as well did not survive.

Yesterday and today, many birthdays happened. Chrysalises opened up everywhere and healthy Monarch butterflys emerged to check out the world from a much different perspective.

A hummingbird made a nest in the middle of my front patio on a butterfly ornament.

My best friend put her beloved pet down today.

The governor and mayor reported the new statistics and crowds gathered at the beach to "protest" lockdown and closed recreation areas.

Celebrate life, love, gifts, freedom.



Life consists of good things and things we make good.
Life is constant and changing.
Life is fleeting and precious.
Life is worth living...at home, in the garden, with each other and family.
Hopefully, we'll be able to have beach bonfires again soon.
With God, we can take hold of life, the good and the not so good, with hope.
Make life good by being good to each other.

God makes all things good in His time. He celebrates us and doesn't forget a stamp! (He doesn't need one)!

Heaven is the hope we hold on too. Let us reflect that, in the good and not so good. In this COVID19 time, may we look back and say, that was not so bad, this is the good that came from such as time as this...

Lord, we thank you for the good times and yes, we can, with faith, give thanks even for the hard times, the sad times and dissappointments. In You, all things work together for the good to those who call You Lord. We pray for strength when our days seem long or uninspired. We thank You that You bestow grace on us, when we least expect it and forgive us always. Help us Lord, to be generous and help others see the Good in life, a life lived for bringing You the Glory. Thank You Lord for one more year. May I bring You praise and glory to the best of my human capabilities and may You Lord be seen in my goodness, not of myself, but because You are Good to me. Grace Upon Amazing Grace.
Amen.



Friday, April 24, 2020

Setting Up A Connection

Colossians 1:17 "And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together." 

I believe this is the close of week 5, possibly 6 including what was supposed to be Spring break, the second week --  #COVID19 social distancing shutdown. I cannot complain. I am getting paid for sleeping in, reading, catching up on streaming shows, a lot of time to work in and enjoy my garden. Witnessing so many caterpillars consume the milkweed I planted for them, grow 1000x their size and find their designated spot in which to shed their skin, pull down a chrysalis blanket around them and reform their protein into a butterfly--simply  amazing!. If you were to come for a visit, I'd point out the 15 hanging, bright green homes where metamorphisis is taking place. 




Is there a metamorphisis taking place in homes across the world? Are families changing for the better? Are we going to be able to see a positive, beautiful transformation after the stay-at-home order is gradually lifted? Is this connectivity to our families going to make a difference in lives and the future? When things return to normal, are they going to be just that...back to normal? Was normal OK? 

I've blogged consistantly about this virus, touching on the subjects of masks, death, hope, mercy and uncertainty. This week, the word, connectivity came to mind. 

Funny, because earlier today, my internet went out on my laptop. Nowhere else did this problem occur, so it definitely presented itself as some sort of glitch in my computer. Several hours of trying to troubleshoot with the provider and a servant at church--no success. I had a plan B, not too happy that I couldn't connect. I sent a prayer request out to my group of friends. Can God please help to intervene in technology? 




I am thinking He, God, has received many such a prayer in these last few weeks as the Body of Christ ministers together in this new normal for now, remotely and virtually, on line in living rooms and on cell phones, Zooming and You-Tubing!  Well, the world tries to stay connected. 

I am reconnected to the internet. It never left. Somehow, a setting changed to a wrong position and it blocked my connection. Maybe that is how some people feel about God--just not fully connected. They know He is there, but they can't seem to find the right way to approach Him, get reaquainted with Him, take the time to see what the "problem" is, relying on a Plan B if it gets to that point. 

God is always connected. It's our "settings" that  need some adjustments.The Apostle Paul reminds us in this verse that the Lord is before all things. He is the provider, the computer, the screen, the router, the WiFi, and we need to be the search engine plucking out on the keyboard of our souls these thoughts: 

Father, You are in Heaven, I am here. Help me to see Your Glory today. Please forgive me of my transgressions, my mess ups, my doubts and fears and lead me into Your will. Help me Lord to stay connected and allow me Lord to see that You hold it all together, all for Your glory, Amen. 




A setting of humility, a setting of recognition-- that God's grace is all sufficient. We are then empowered to do this life and stay connected to Him and to His will, whether we are out and about or home, congregating or social distancing, masked or not, healthy or compromised, young or old, black, white, purple, rich or poor...

Our settings by default need to be placed, in Him, our Creator. It is rather poetic of Paul as I reread this short but mighty verse.


He's before all things and in Him all things hold together. 

I challenge you to write several Post-It notes and strategically place them around your home to remind you of this verse. Where are the places you get caught-up in? Where do you need to see His all sufficient grace? Where do you recognize that God is holding you all together, to trust Him? 



Lord, I pray that this simple poetic line of scripture will help someone out there to reconnect to You and Your plan and Your love for them.Thank You Lord for always being The Mighty connection to what is Holy and worth persevering for. Help us all Lord to stay connected and thwart off the virus of apathy. Wayward settings lead us to false teaching and hoplessness. Lifestyles and choices allow some to feel useless, unable to connect to You Lord. But because You are the Risen Saviour, You provided that setting of Grace for all who believe. May we not choose the setting of our own way, but connect to the Spirit that always provides, from the before to the now and into the after. Amen. 









Friday, April 17, 2020

Facing Grace

Jeremiah 51:51  " We are ashamed because we have heard reproach; disgrace has covered our faces. 


You know those moments when your Bible opens randomly and you feel led to just read from anywhere, without context, beginning or ending?

That happened this week. Flipping pages, probably looking for Psalms, I was distracted. My Bible ended up open to Jeremiah when I came back to look for what I originally wanted to read, but before I did that, I happened to glance at the last paragraph of my Bible to my left, but the bottom of the right page, reading these verses 49-51 of the 51st chapter of Jeremiah. It caught my attention.

My commentary on Jeremiah describes him as a "heartbroken prophet with a heartbreaking message. But through his sermons and signs he faithfully declares that surrender to God's will is the only way to escape calamity."

Calamity...that is a word we could certainly afixx to the season this world is in today, #COVID19.

Mandated now,  everyone who steps outside and has any kind of interaction with the public and/or family must wear a protective mask. The mask doesn't protect the wearer, but protects another person from receiving anything unintentionally released from a cough or sneeze.




We've all been trying to follow the rules these last few weeks, But, #MaskWeek is apparent now,  everywhere. Our church and our amazing Chinese Fellowship made over 2000 masks to share with the public. I received a butterfly mask from a friend last week, left cutely and carefully packaged on my front door mat. Two other friends have sewn masks and I've received from their effort. Masked up, Virus-spreading body parts covered--now an essential part of our new normal. Many are making masks, repurposing things to make masks and adding to their regular production line, masks. Even students in computer tech classes are learning to create 3-D shields remotely. That is so cool.




Some of these masks, like a few of mine, are made from a remnant, a left over piece of fabric big enough to create a new purpose. Jeremiah's hope for his people as their prophet, that they (Judah) will turn back from their apostasy, and return morally and spiritually to the God of their Fathers. Judah remained in captivity to Babylon for many more years. Although Jeremiah pleaded and proclaimed God's grace and restoration, he always hoped for a remnant to rise up.

In this verse, one can picture a dissapointed Jeremiah, shaking his head maybe wringing his hands, and shedding a few tears. He says in the verse prior, "Remember the Lord from afar, and let Jerusalem come to your mind."   

What if God sees you as a remnant He longs to repurpose for His will?

 A nation that has dismissed, watered-down, been too busy for, neglected, compromised, rebuked, disrespected and forgotten their God is a nation...a world in trouble. It's been that way since the Garden. "Disgrace covered their face and as a result," Jeremiah states, yet still the whole of a nation became infected and enslaved.

Adam and Eve noticed their nakedness, ashamed. (Gen.3:7) and they put together some fig leaves to cover themselves. Yet God still showed them His grace and mercy. Genesis 3:21 states: "The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them. 

Clothed them in GRACE.

We are wearing masks, not out of guilt but grace for others. God did not cause COVID19. As is every other bad, sad, tragedy, this world needs grace and a relationship with a God who is the Giver of Grace for there are eventual consequences and into eternity when we choose the world. Wearing our "masks"of Christianity doesn't bring on the cure. God knows our hearts, what we pursue, who is His.

And yet He still longs to give us His Amazing Grace.

Can we be a part of the remnant that gives grace? Can we receive it? Tie it around us and approach life with His reminder that every day is a gift?

Dis-grace covers our faces. Amazing Grace heals us and we remember the Lord face to face, not from afar.



Lord God, Thank you for the lessons taught from the Old Testament. We can apply so much today from the lives of those gone before us. We see the brokenness of Judah and the Prophets calling out to Your people, come home, be safe, rid yourself of that which enslaves you. Yet, in their stubborness, they would have to endure until Your prophesy fulfilled in You, the coming Messiah, Emmanuel, God with us. Lord, help us to heed to Your Word, and not suffer reproach. I long to be a good listener, one who hears and acts on what You lead me to. Help me to persevere and see each day gifted as a day to better know You and serve You. Whatever masks we hide behind sometimes, give us the courage to remove them and breath in freely Your amazing grace. Thank you Lord, for making a way for us. I pray for America, for the world that is in this pandemic, we will seek to know You and listen for Your voice which calls us to be a remnant, a repurposed tool in which to be used for Your Glory. How amazing is that! Amen.


Friday, April 10, 2020

Cause of Death


Revelation 1: 17-18 And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as a dead man. And He laid His right hand upon me saying, "Do not be afraid; I am the First and Last, and the Living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and Hades." 




"Pilate said to them, "Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?"

They all said, "Let Him be crucified!"

And when Pilate saw that he was accomplishing nothing, but rather that a riot was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the multitude, saying, "I am innocent of this Man's blood; see to that yourselves," (Matthew 27:22-24).

On Golgotha, the hill in Jerusalem where crucifictions took place, Jesus bore His cross, hung from the beams by stakes pounded into His flesh. His previously fileted-open back sticking to the splintered wood, blood dripping from the crown of thorns smashed down around His head. Naked, bleeding, suffering, suffocating...Yet enduring the Cross, the Will of  the Father God.



Because it was soon to be the Sabbath, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate if he could take care of Jesus's body. Pilate gave the permission. (Matt. 27:57-58). His body was wrapped in strips of linen most likely soaked in aloes and myrrh. Placed in a donated tomb, Pilate made sure that His body was guarded, secured, as well as a seal placed on the tomb.

No coroner showed up, no hearse, or mortuary...

~~~

A few weeks after my son passed away, I received his death certificate in the mail. It read something like this: Cause of Death, multiple organ failure do to kidney disease and other maladies.



I remember thinking in my deep grief, how could someone sum up his death in just a few short words? It involved so much more, so much I needed to see explained on that piece of paper as if that might justify everything...give me closure.

 I began my process of grief by proclaiming a "Life Certificate," of my son's and my own.

What would Jesus's death certificate say?


Cause of death: 
lying, stealing, coveting, lust, greed, idol worship, hypocrisy, disrespect, gossip, slander, impurity, wrath... 

Racism, poverty, enslavement, starvation, murder, rape...

War, Terrorism, the Halocaust, Genocide, 911, Syria...drug cartels, political anarchy and brutal regimes...

Every disease known and unknown, brought into existence by the deterioration of this world since man made the choice to desire his own will apart from God. 


Jesus died for every sin this world, you and I ever commited--every sin, the blatant and the underlying condition of our hearts, since the beginning of time. Though Pilate "washed his hands," his sin still infiltrated his soul. God sent His Son to right Humanity. Humanity has a way out of eternal separation from the Almighty.

Unfathomable--Yet I believe, because He has given me His Life Certificate.

What did Jesus die from? His Cause of Death?

One Word, one word only...

LOVE.





Lord, Although I write many words, my Life Certificate really says one clear statement--
Reedemed by Grace. Your death on the Cross that Good Friday 2000 years ago, conquered the sin in my life--everyday! I am forgiven, redeemed by Your shed blood, allowing me access to enjoy an intimate relationship with My Heavenly Father. I am thankful Lord, for the gift of the Holy Spirit which gives me Your direction and guides me through the days I am alive in this broken world. In the darkness that covers our lives today, at these hours that are now weeks, may You Jesus, the Light of the World, fill our homes and our hearts with Your Hope. I sing and praise You Lord for Easter morning, when our belief in the Resurrection assures us that we, too, will have eternal life abiding with You into Eternity, victory over sin. Amen.